By Edward Nawotka
Despite the general global economic downturn, Brazilian publishing has proven surprisingly resilient. For much of the past decade, the business has been growing at a steady clip, reaching $3.3 billion reals ($1.93 billion) in 2008—a rise of 9.71% over 2007. It is the eighth biggest book market in the world and the largest in South America, accounting for more than half the books published in the region.
Though the official numbers for 2009 are not yet tallied, industry observer Ricardo Costa, editor of Publish News, a Brazilian publishing trade magazine, expects growth to hold steady.
“I think that the market is going really well,” he told Publishing Perspectives in an interview. “We were worried what was going to happen with the economic crisis. Observing what has happened in the last few months, we have seen that book sales are increasing, perhaps by much as 10% for the year.” (Watch our conversation with Costa below.)
One explanation offered for the market’s continued growth is the fact that much of the lower and middle classes of Brazil have been insulated from the global recession by virtue of a lack of exposure, yet, it is in this area where many of the publishers are finding a new audience for work—despite a lack of bookstores in the further reaches of the country. Door-to-door sales are common, especially for religious and reference works.
Another explanation for the continued growth of the publishing industry is the continued support of the government, which purchases more than half of all the books published each year, albeit at a steep discount from the publishers—as much as 85% off of the cover price. Most of the books purchased by the government are educational textbooks, a segment which itself accounts for 57.5% of the 340 million individual titles printed annually in the country. In all, Brazil published approximately 50,000 new titles per year, a plateau it reached for the first time in 2008.
With the heavy concentration on textbooks, it should come as no surprise that the education and STM sectors are by far the most robust in the country. That said, religious and trade publishing continues to grow at a healthy rate, with each segment producing some 20% more titles annually.
During a recent visit to publishers in Sao Paolo organized by the Câmara Brasileira do Livro, Publishing Perspectives had the opportunity to interview a variety of publishers about how they are faring during the economic crisis and their expectations for the coming year.
Here, we speak to Sintia Mattar, rights manager of Cosac Naify, a literary and art book publisher:
Cristiana Maria Negrão, editor from Canção Nova, a Catholic publishing house.
Antonio Carlos Vilela, author and assistant editor of Editora Rideel, a education and reference book publisher.
READ: More about the Brazilian publishing scene at Publish News.
VISIT: The Cosac Naify Web site.
LEARN: More about Canção Nova.
EXPLORE: The latest publications of Editora Rideel.
BONUS: Suggest your favorite Brazilian authors for translation.